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What it is like to be a bit: an integrated information decomposition account of emergent mental phenomena.

Accepted version
Peer-reviewed

Type

Article

Change log

Authors

Luppi, Andrea I 
Mediano, Pedro AM 
Rosas, Fernando E 
Harrison, David J 
Carhart-Harris, Robin L 

Abstract

A central question in neuroscience concerns the relationship between consciousness and its physical substrate. Here, we argue that a richer characterization of consciousness can be obtained by viewing it as constituted of distinct information-theoretic elements. In other words, we propose a shift from quantification of consciousness-viewed as integrated information-to its decomposition. Through this approach, termed Integrated Information Decomposition (ΦID), we lay out a formal argument that whether the consciousness of a given system is an emergent phenomenon depends on its information-theoretic composition-providing a principled answer to the long-standing dispute on the relationship between consciousness and emergence. Furthermore, we show that two organisms may attain the same amount of integrated information, yet differ in their information-theoretic composition. Building on ΦID's revised understanding of integrated information, termed ΦR, we also introduce the notion of ΦR-ing ratio to quantify how efficiently an entity uses information for conscious processing. A combination of ΦR and ΦR-ing ratio may provide an important way to compare the neural basis of different aspects of consciousness. Decomposition of consciousness enables us to identify qualitatively different 'modes of consciousness', establishing a common space for mapping the phenomenology of different conscious states. We outline both theoretical and empirical avenues to carry out such mapping between phenomenology and information-theoretic modes, starting from a central feature of everyday consciousness: selfhood. Overall, ΦID yields rich new ways to explore the relationship between information, consciousness, and its emergence from neural dynamics.

Description

Keywords

consciousness, information decomposition, integrated information theory, phenomenology, selfhood

Journal Title

Neurosci Conscious

Conference Name

Journal ISSN

2057-2107
2057-2107

Volume Title

Publisher

Oxford University Press (OUP)

Rights

All rights reserved
Sponsorship
Wellcome Trust (210920/Z/18/Z)
This work was supported by the Gates Cambridge Trust (to AIL); the Stephen Erskine Fellowship (Queens’ College, Cambridge, to EAS); the Wellcome Trust (grant no. 210920/Z/18/Z; to PAM and DB); The History and Philosophy of Science Trust Fund (to DJH); and the Ad Astra Chandaria foundation (to FR); Ad Astra Trust, Tim Ferriss, The Nikean Foundation, and The Tamas Family (to (RLC-H). The Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (EAS).